First, let’s look at the concept of branding. Brands are powerful and symbolic elements that have the potential of influencing cultures, societies and generations. They play a daily role in our lives from the product decisions and choices we make to the people we choose to speak to or associate with. They are also wealth-creators and a source of a steady income stream for the companies that own them. These statements will become clearer as you read further
The concept of branding has been in existence for hundreds of years. The origin of brands comes from the times when early cattle-rearing men stamped their ownership on their livestock by burning a mark of their name or identity on the cattle, to distinguish one cattle-farmer’s stock from another’s. Through this means of differentiation, the good quality cattle could be easily identified. This crude method has translated into the trademarks and logos of today, which forms a crucial part of the brand.
The current definition of a brand has however evolved from marks, names, logos and shapes to elaborate marketing development and strategies. The result is the creation of something powerful and consistent, which has the ability to produce emotional and psychological attachment with consumers and financial value for the brand owner
A brand symbolizes a guarantee and credibility that assures the consumer that what they are about to purchase will deliver its promise. The instant recognition and definition of certain products is mainly as a result of the brand. However, a product is not a brand and neither is a service a brand nor a company a brand. If we were to go by the book definition of branding from the experts, we might summarize branding as the following
A brand is a name, term, sign, symbol, design or a combination of these that is intended to identify the product of a seller and to differentiate it from those of competitors. It is an identifiable entity of a company’s total offerings that makes specific and consistent promises of value, which results in an overall experience for the consumer or anyone who comes in contact with the brand.
A product is a commodity that is made in a factory, which possesses attributes and features, making it tangible. A brand is the sum of all experiences and communications received by the consumer resulting in a distinctive image in their mind-set based on perceived functional and emotional benefits, which makes it intangible. This means that branding and all its associations reside in the mind of the consumer, therefore you and I (the consumers) are important players in the branding scenario. Products can be easily copied and become outdated, but brands are unique and timeless.
Branding has become very prominent in the last fifty years as a core aspect of marketing and business strategy. The concept has been stretched beyond the product or service application level to become one of the most important business categories. As a modern concept, branding can be applied to anything from products and services, to companies, countries and even individuals.